News Release – October 8, 2008

Contact: Mac Prichard; (503) 517-2772

Task Force recommends model policies to reclaim youth in the juvenile justice system

Portland, OR (Oct. 8, 2008) — A national task force today released recommendations on how local, state and federal levels of government can reinvent the way they help young people in trouble with drugs, alcohol and crime.

The task force, made up of a diverse group of juvenile justice and substance abuse experts, has authored Model Policies for Juvenile Justice and Substance Abuse Treatment. The report outlines specific policy options for lawmakers, judges and administrators to improve juvenile justice and drug and alcohol treatment.

“We’ve identified specific, practical steps that leaders at all levels of government can adopt to help reclaim the lives of young people in our communities,” said Judge Laura Inveen of the King County Superior Court in Seattle, Washington, a member of the report’s task force.

The report draws on best practices in juvenile justice and substance abuse and lessons learned by Reclaiming Futures, a national initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A recent independent evaluation by the Urban Institute and the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall Center for Children shows that Reclaiming Futures is working. The evaluation found that communities that piloted the Reclaiming Futures model reported significant improvements in juvenile justice and drug and alcohol treatment.

“We hope that policy-makers at all levels of government, as well as other community leaders, will consider the policy options, many of which were pioneered by Reclaiming Futures,” said Laura Nissen, national director of Reclaiming Futures.

The report recommends policy options for the federal government include amending the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to cover substance abuse treatment, ending rules that prevent drug and alcohol treatment, and allowing Medicaid to pay for treatment for young people in public institutions.

It presents policy options for state government for revising state contracts and grants to encourage collaboration, allowing integrated program funding, and educating state leadership about the use and limitations of Medicaid funds to support screening, assessment and treatment.

On the local level, the report advises using standardized tools to screen all children entering the juvenile justice system, continuing support for young people and their families after they have left the juvenile justice system, and encouraging tax incentives for local businesses to provide mentoring and youth activities.

The report can be read in its entirety at

About Reclaiming Futures
Reclaiming Futures is an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that offers a new approach to helping teenagers caught in the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime. Its founding 10 communities include: Anchorage, Alaska.; Santa Cruz, Calif.; Chicago, Ill.; four counties in Southeastern Kentucky; Marquette, Mich.; the state of New Hampshire; the Sovereign Tribal Nation of Sicangu Lakota in Rosebud, South Dakota; Dayton, Ohio; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle, Wash. In 2008, three additional sites adopted the model thanks to funding by investments by RWJF and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. By 2009, funding from RWJF and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust will assist 10 more sites in implementing the approach. The national office of Reclaiming Futures is housed in the Regional Research Institute of the Graduate School of Social Work at Portland State University.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 30 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves.